It’s late at night, and you’re about to fall asleep.  As you drift off into dreamland, your mind wanders to that one thing you really want to do with your life.  Maybe you want to start your own business.  Write a novel.  Travel to foreign places.  These long-standing dreams put a smile to your face.

Until you hear “the voice.”

“Sure, it would be great to start your own business, but what about security?  You’ll lose your health benefits and let’s face it, your retirement savings are pitiful.  Your job’s not great, but it’s better than nothing.”

“It would be fun to write a novel, but who has time for that?   You have to work overtime as it is, and your children aren’t going to raise themselves.  Maybe you can squeeze in some time in 5-10 years.”

“Travel sounds like a blast, but it’s expensive.  Not to mention the risks.  Didn’t you just read about a tourist dying overseas?  It might be better to do a staycation this year.”

The voice halts more of your good intentions than any other factor.  Even the bravest among us have this voice, nagging at us to remain constant.  When it comes to trying something new and challenging, you must overcome the voice.

So how do you combat something so ingrained in your personality, it feels like a part of you?  By tweaking your everyday habits, you can also alter the voice to align with your new goals:

Fill your Mind with Positive Images

If the voice inside your head defaults to negativity, change it by training yourself to only see positive images of your goal.  First, come up with a mental picture that represents the good feelings you associate with your new pursuit.  Perhaps it’s you crossing the finish line after your first marathon.  Thereafter, whenever you start hearing the nagging voice telling you to quit, immediately focus on that positive image.  It will take some mental work at first, but over time, you can replace the negative thoughts with the positive image.

Remove the Negativity in your Media

In our tech-connected world of Facebook opinions and Twitter hashtagging, it’s easy to be connected with friends and family.  Unfortunately, their opinions can be detrimental to your end goals.  If you are constantly being bombarded with naysayers in your media consumption – whether that be in your Facebook feed or the news app on your phone – cut them out.

As a personal example, when I had my daughters, I quit my job and found part-time work so I could play a bigger role in raising my children (something I could thankfully afford given my financial situation).  I loved my old job, but felt this was a better balance for my life with children.  Many of my Facebook friends in the same situation chose instead to keep their full-time careers.  In my opinion, both options are valid.  However, those friends were constantly posting about the virtue of sticking with your career after having kids.  At first, it made me feel as if I made the wrong choice, even though I was happy with my new routine.  After many months, I blocked those posts from my Facebook feed, effectively quietening the voice of doubt.

Find People who Believe in You

This seems corny, but regardless, it works.  If you surround yourself with people who will tell you that your goal is achievable, your voice will emulate those people.  It helps tremendously if the people you interact with daily – your closest friends, your spouse, your co-workers – are included in this group.  If you can’t find people in your inner circle to push your forward, make new friends who do.  Find a travel interest board that has others who have jet setted across the globe or meet up with other small business owners.  They have already conquered their nay-saying voice and can help you do the same.

Use Quiet Time to Reflect

It’s great to remind yourself of your passion and goals in the heat of a big moment.  However, it is just as important to remind yourself why you want to pursue your goals in the less dramatic moments.  At the end of a long, frustrating day of working towards your goal, take 10-15 minutes to reflect on why you are taking this journey.  Meditation works well here, but listening to music, reviewing your progress, or any positive reinforcement will work.  The key is to remind yourself not to quit even when things get discouraging.

It’s hard enough to change when others give you push back, but by altering the nagging voice inside your own head, you can convince your biggest critic (i.e. you) to go forward.  What other methods have you used to change your inner voice?

Photo by Penny Lane

Deborah Fike

Deborah Fike is the Director of Educational Outreach for Spotkin, an educational games company that marries fun with learning.  She’s also the founder of Avalon Labs, which provides marketing consultations and writing services for start-ups and online businesses.   She carves out a significant portion of her time to raising her two younger daughters.

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